Q&A with Kathy Bock, Managing Director and Head of Vanguard Canada

TFI recently welcomed Vanguard Investments Canada Inc. to our membership network. We caught up with Kathy Bock, Managing Director and Head of Vanguard Canada to learn more about Vanguard's Canadian business and the role of innovation in today's fast-paced and changing financial market.

Hi Kathy. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Can you tell us a little bit about Vanguard?

We are trying to get the word out about our long history of putting investors first. Thanks for the opportunity to tell the Vanguard story. 

Vanguard is one of the largest asset management firms in the world with over $8 trillion CAD in assets under management and serving 30 million clients worldwide. We were founded in the U.S. in 1975 and established the Canadian business, with our head office based in Toronto, in 2011. Since that time, we have consistently grown to the point where Canadians own $41 billion CAD in Vanguard’s ETFs, mutual funds and institutional investment products. Vanguard is a global organization that believes deeply in taking a stand for all investors, treating them fairly and giving them the best chance for investment success.

That commitment is part of our DNA and is reflected in our mutual ownership structure whereby we are owned by our funds, which in turn are owned by the investors who hold them. This unique structure aligns our interests with those of our investors worldwide, allowing us to put investors interests first in all that we do.

How would you describe Vanguard’s Canadian business?

We are the 3rd largest ETF provider in Canada and the largest independent ETF provider. “Large” is not the goal. Being the best at serving investors is, and large is a consequence of doing that. We are proud and honoured that Canadians have entrusted so much of their hard-earned money to Vanguard. Vanguard offers 40 ETFs along with 4 mutual funds, and 12 target retirement funds available through defined contribution retirement plans. Our products include a suite of both passively and actively managed high-performing and low-cost investment strategies.

We have a growing team of 70 investment professionals in Canada, half of whom have joined in the past three years, with growth projections to add many more. Vanguard’s values are closely aligned with Canadian values of inclusiveness. At Vanguard, treating investors fairly while providing accessible and inclusive investments that can work for everyone - whether you are a first-time investor, a financial advisor or an institutional investor - is what we are all about. People may have noticed our ads that highlight this “Vanguard - Investing for the 100%”.

What real opportunities do you see in the Canadian market for a company like Vanguard?
We see three main opportunities to change the Canadian investment landscape. These include:
  1. Creating innovative, understandable investment solutions that meet the needs of Canadian investors. Our introduction of ‘one-ticket’ asset allocation ETFs provides a low-cost and high-quality investment option featuring a mix of stocks and bonds with a pre-determined risk rating. These funds have been very popular with Canadians in attracting over $2.5 billion in assets in just two years.
  2. Rooted in our mission to put the interests of investors first, we believe in improving the investment environment for Canadians by lowering the cost of investments and advice, advocating for greater fee transparency, and minimizing conflicts of interest in the distribution of investment products and advice.
  3. Helping Canadians navigate retirement, by leveraging our global retirement expertise and providing solutions, education and service for both accumulation and draw-down phases of retirement.

Investors need to better understand what they are buying and what they pay for investments and advice. Overall, we see positive signs of progress in Canada’s regulatory landscape. Recent efforts to improve fee transparency along with CSA’s decision late last year to ban deferred sales charges (DSCs) in all but one province and eliminate embedded commissions on discount brokerage platforms nationally, are strong signals that our industry is moving in the right direction – in the best interests of investors.

In today’s fast-paced and changing financial market, what role does innovation play within Vanguard?

We were early innovators in terms of our unique mutual ownership structure and in pioneering indexing and low-cost investing. We’ll continue to innovate in the product and service space based on client needs, with straightforward solutions such as our suite of asset allocation ETFs.

We believe that smart use of technology can create tremendous value and opportunity for all financial services firms, not just Vanguard, to deliver better capabilities at a better price point for investors. And we are committed to investing in financial technology in many forms across our organization, including portfolio management processes, digital tools and capabilities for financial advisors and new research and education to help investors.

To help in that effort, we have recently announced plans to add a Toronto-based team focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) technologies. This team will help build enterprise solutions for Vanguard’s global clients. Toronto has a deep pool of AI and ML talent and is already the host of leading academic institutions committed to that field. We are thrilled to bring jobs to Toronto. We are equally excited that through our work in Toronto, investors around the world will benefit from what Canada has to offer.

To learn more about Vanguard or if you have questions about this blog, please contact:

Matt Gierasimczuk, PR Manager, Vanguard Canada
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416-263-7087

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Kathy Bock
Kathy Bock

Managing Director and Head

Vanguard Canada